Permanent home, new tools, & new classes for the North Carolina Furniture School!

Stuart Kent

Stuart
Senior User
Good Morning All,

Mike Davis asked me to share this big news with you, (and I just invited him to come teach a class for us, so let's make that happen - who's interested?). Also several folks here on the forum have asked what the school is and how it came to be, so here is the story and the big news:

5 years ago my wife and I moved back home from research and teaching at the National University of Costa Rica. We decided to pursue an ambitious life goal to build a community-inclusive academy that would "preserve, promote, and advance the heritage of woodworking in North Carolina". We named it the North Carolina Furniture School to honor our state industrial heritage. We began by holding private classes at my home and group classes at my cabinet shop. As it grew, I sold my interest in the cabinet shop and relocated the school to a rented building in Ayden. Over the last year we have been searching for a permanent home for the school, with the right mix of environment, accessibility, community, cost, and proximity. We came very close to moving the school to downtown Raleigh, but couldn't get that move dialed in just right so it felt like we were trying too hard to put a square peg in a round hole. We searched diligently in a 100 mile radius of Raleigh for that right place.

Along came Farmville. A progressive and burgeoning little arts community located 15 min. west of Greenville, 15 min east of I-95, and just one hour due east of downtown Raleigh on U.S. 264. They have numerous multi-million dollar developments ongoing in the downtown area, excellent art galleries, Artist studios, the East Carolina University glass blowing facility, a mix of established and boutique restaurants, an excellent history museum, numerous Air B&B's, strong biopharma, manufacturing, and commercial agricultural employers, and they are committed to promoting arts and education in the community. So after some serious negotiation, we bought a downtown building directly across the street from the ECU Glass Station. Here is a sneak peek

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This move will nearly triple our square footage and allow us to add programs, classes, and demonstrations that have not been possible to this point. We are building a premium bench room with 5 Shaker style benches for traditional hand tool classes, plane and jig making, and what I call advanced portable electric tool classes (think 'Festool' woodworking). We are also strengthening our relationships with Shopbot and Autodesk to start digital fabrication courses at all skill levels beginner to advanced in CAD, CAM, & applied 3 axis and rotary axis CNC. Additionally we are also expanding the woodturning classes to include advanced courses in segmented work, large scale turning, production work, etc. We are expanding the woodturning studio to include 8 fully equipped, full size machine stations, with new machines from Robust and the innovative new Harvey T-60 25" lathe (2hp servo motor and digital control). We will have a new multi-use area that will be a clean area classroom with a projector and flat screen, a large conference table, drawing and layout equipment, an in-house library for books and periodicals, and a living materials library for physical identification and design work. The new climate controlled shop will have central and local dust collection with a pair of Harvey G700 Gyro Air processors, overhead ambient air filtration, and a central cyclone. We will also have shop-wide compressed air for pneumatics and general use, four table saws (two 10", one 14", and one 16" rip saw), two bandsaws (14" & 36"), two planers (12 1/2" & 20"), a large jointer, dedicated rough and fine cross cutting stations, 2 spindle shapers, a full size router table, a machine joinery station with dovetail jigs, pocket hole jigs, slot mortising, chisel mortising, and a sanding station with a pedestal bladder sander, stationary belt, disc, and spindle sanders (and long term plans to find a large edge sander and commercial down-draft table) The shop will also have an outdoor work area for chainsaw safety and use workshops, welding and metal fabrication and forming (for woodworkers - not for serious welding - there are places and people better suited for that), a basic blacksmithing area (think bench implements and simple fixtures). We will continue to be Eastern NC's only purveyor of fine woodworking equipment, premium lumber, and workshop supplies. There is more, but you get the picture, this is serious.

We are also proud to be the home of the NCFS Turners woodturning club and are actively recruiting new members for anyone that might be interested. We are a simple woodturning club, focused on turning and learning.

For 2019 - 2020, we will host several special events and new classes including; a second Women's Woodturning Weekend (last year we had 38 in attendance from 3 or 4 states [can't remember exactly]), we are planning a Workbench Intensive Class with Jim McConnell (co-founder of Mortise & Tenon, author for Popular Woodworking), hand tool and sharpening classes, plane making, LOTS of new woodturning classes, machine safety classes (think table saw and shaper...), design classes, digital fabrication classes, and we are bringing in the very best demonstrators in the world for special classes like Mastering the Skew with Nick Cook (this fall hint hint). We just got back from a foreign immersion trip to Ireland where we took a class with Master Woodturner Glenn Lucas, and we are now planning our woodturning trip for next year to New Zealand!

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We can use all the help we can get, to make this a premier woodworking school in North Carolina and welcome donations, ideas, and good old fashioned elbow grease. We want people to understand that this is a community endeavor and that our door is open to anyone interested in woodworking at any level. This is a chance to make sure our craft doesn't go into the darkness. It represents an opportunity to make sure it is curated, advanced, and promoted for future generations. Built in a manner that fosters meaningful exploration, entrepreneurism and even scholarship in this field. We invite you to join in and look forward to meeting new folks this year. We will open the doors to the new facility later this summer and renovations will continue through the coming year. Thank you for taking the time.

Stuart.
 
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Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
IMPRESSIVE LOVE YOUR DEDICATION. Carpentry has gone from a great trade to a diminishing niche. Been in it for 40 yrs and watched it slide. BEST OF LUCK. If I can be of help holler
 

golfdad

Co-director of Outreach
Dirk
Corporate Member
Theres a few SatI could lend a hand if needed Stuart. When you get to that point let me know
 

Stuart Kent

Stuart
Senior User
thanks guys. I am making an action plan now to help manage this project. That way I will know what needs to be done, and in what order.
 

rcarmac

Robert
Corporate Member
Congratulations Stuart!

Just want to throw this out. The Architecture Firm that I am a Partner in is currently doing the New Farmville Library. It is scheduled to start construction late July / early August. The new library is replacing the existing library. We will be demolishing the old library and putting the new on that same site. If I understand where your new School will be, I think we are going to be close neighbors. As part of the design, we included areas for art work, display, etc. Farmville, as a client, has been very receptive to making accommodations for art/craft inside the library. Know you are opening a new school down the street, I feel like we should have some synergies that could benefit both your school, the Town, and the new library.

After seeing your post, I just want to throw this out. Don't know if anything could come out if it, but would like to start a conversation if you are interested.
 

Bear Republic

Steve
Corporate Member
Congrats!!!!! You're getting set to be the premier location for learning the craft. When you get the plan done let us know, I'd like to try and help out also.
 

Stuart Kent

Stuart
Senior User
Congratulations Stuart!

Just want to throw this out. The Architecture Firm that I am a Partner in is currently doing the New Farmville Library. It is scheduled to start construction late July / early August. The new library is replacing the existing library. We will be demolishing the old library and putting the new on that same site. If I understand where your new School will be, I think we are going to be close neighbors. As part of the design, we included areas for art work, display, etc. Farmville, as a client, has been very receptive to making accommodations for art/craft inside the library. Know you are opening a new school down the street, I feel like we should have some synergies that could benefit both your school, the Town, and the new library.

After seeing your post, I just want to throw this out. Don't know if anything could come out if it, but would like to start a conversation if you are interested.
I heard something about the library, but didn't realize they were this far along with that process, this is great news! You are correct, we are two buildings down from the library, so I am thrilled to learn about this! I am very interested in talking to you about the possibilities, let's talk!
 

karlkoch

New User
Karl
I'm excited and happy for you Stuart! Looking forward to being involved in the building of the new school...and the learning that will follow.
 

ste6168

New User
Mike
Wow. This is AWESOME! I will definitely need to make a visit, if nothing else, just to check the place out. When do you intend to open?
 

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